Re-organizing my room this evening I rediscovered this little baby poncho. I think it's a good example of something distinctively my own. I based the design on a pattern I found somewhere and changed significantly. It won a first place ribbon at the Marin County Fair, the year when the theme was The Golden Gate. The poncho's title was "Waldo Tunnel".
If you've ever crossed the Golden Gate Bridge from the City to Marin County, you'll recognize the colors on this little poncho. You drive under a rainbow painted on industrial WPA green: the Waldo Tunnel. Or at least you did that year. The tunnel has since been renamed the Robin Williams Memorial tunnel, which I think is only right and fitting, since he oft referred to the rainbow as "the Marin County Ethnic Detector." Plus he’s from Marin.
I dyed all the yarns I used to knit the piece. The rainbow was easy. Credit early color testing, where I learned how to make a convincing color wheel. But the tunnel itself…it’s green. Greens are kind of hard to match; this particular shade is that industrial WPA green that you see on so many (US) federal buildings, kind of a milky, chalky mint green you might imagine would smell like an old Wint-O-Green Lifesaver you found in your purse – except in paint form. I studied that WPA green, took photos as we zipped toward it (many fuzzy Waldo Tunnel shots), memorized that green. Then I set to make a yarn that color. That green was a challenge. And I think I nailed it.
I'm pretty passionate about the Golden Gate Bridge. It's the absolutely best bridge ever -- and I'd be willing to bet I've got *that* color memorized, too. Rusty orangey red, but at the right time of day, when the sun hits the bay just at the right angle… I finally understand why it's called the Golden Gate. And what that golden sunlight does to the red of the bridge… Wow! No wonder the residents wouldn't let them paint it.
This was an example of process and intention meeting, with a happy ending. (If you don’t count what happened to Robin Williams.)
Moving forward, I have every intention of entering this year’s competition at the Marin County Fair. It’s an annual tradition of mine, ever since my next door neighbor bullied me into it some 8 years ago, on the basis that “You are an artist, damn you. Look into my eyes and say it with me: Amber. Is. An. Artist.” Four “Best-in-Show” ribbons, a Special Award for T-shirt design, and I don’t know how many blue ribbons later, I guess I have to admit, my neighbor was right. I’ve even got a 2nd place ribbon posted on my wall at home, because it was in the Quilts division, which is as ferociously competitive as the Knitting division. Some REALLY talented people win at quilts and knitting every year – and my first “art quilt” was literally hidden behind a door it was so horrid – getting that close to a first place was pretty impressive to me.
So this year I'm entering another art quilt, this time without quotation marks, because it actually is one. I originally made it to give my mom this past Xmas, but it turned out so sweet I decided to keep it and enter it in this year’s Fair. I sent Mom a picture.
I've been doing this bit of “LOVE” graffiti since I was a little kid. At 7 I was the youngest hippy I knew, and I was a huge fan of peace and love. I put flowers in my hair. I wanted to be in San Francisco, because the song said that “Summertime [would] be a love-in there.” A couple years later, I lamented missing Woodstock, but hey, I was 9, and on the opposite coast, both valid excuses for not being there. I wore pink and orange together. I drew peace signs everywhere, on everything, and when I learned how to write LOVE, that new picture joined the peace signs on everything from notebooks to bell-bottoms to the wall of my bedroom and wherever else I could think of.
Last autumn, when I was experimenting with alcohol inks, I made some interesting and psychedelic looking silk, so I tried it on cotton, and got this. It demanded more. I found a piece of fabric I’d made (using a Jane Dunnewold technique btw) and stuffed into a corner for a year or so (I hated the way it came out) and suddenly decided I loved it so much I didn’t want to cut it up to back this quilt-let – but nothing else would do. (I made more.) The pebbles turned out to be easier to quilt than I expected, and I love love LOVE the way it came out.
And the theme for this year’s Marin County Fair? The Summer of Love!
So this is what perfection looks like to me: what Mark calls “Perfect Enough.” Intention, process, and context all come together in charming equilibrium. Are the seams straight? Nah, but that’s okay, it’s Perfect Enough. Is the backing straight? Nah, but that’s okay, because it’s Perfect Enough. Ditto the pebble quilting stitch, and the fact that the foiling didn’t quite do what I meant it to, because I believe it’s Perfect Enough. It could win a nice prize, even amongst the fierce competition it’ll face.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe “LOVE” or “Waldo Tunnel” would win every competition – for example, I’ve seen some national winners in Quilting Arts magazine, and I’m nowhere near that quality art quilter.
But "LOVE" is Perfect Enough for where it’s going.